2021 IndyCar season champion Alex Palou made his Formula 1 weekend debut at the United States Grand Prix after taking to the track in the McLaren in free practice on Friday.
That was thanks to an agreement that the Spaniard had reached with those from Woking after he signed a contract to be one of their test drivers, although he continued to retain his position in the Chip Ganassi Racing team, with whom he will continue to compete in IndyCar after of a failed attempt to sign with the British.
Patricio O’Ward is part of the same programme, and will make his debut in motorsport’s top flight later this year, in practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but Palou said he didn’t see it as a competition to try to be the next pilot who makes the leap to Formula 1.
“No, I don’t think we’re competing,” said the Barcelona native. “As racing drivers, you always are, but if we go from there, I don’t think they’ll put us in a race, so I don’t take it that way.”
“I think the way we’ve been testing and how we’ve been working together, I haven’t felt that way, so I don’t think so,” continued the Catalan.
McLaren have Lando Norris on a long-term contract, and they have also signed Oscar Piastri , Formula 2 champion and Daniel Ricciardo’s replacement, for their second driver in 2023, with a multi-course deal, which ensures them a very young lineup.
O’Ward had already made clear his ambition to land a place in the ‘Great Circus’ one day, but admitted last winter that the chance of that happening would not realistically come for a few years.
Palou, for his part, said he was happy to focus on IndyCar , noting that it was his success in the championship that helped him get his shot at Austin: “Obviously I think as a racing driver who likes the motorsport, Formula 1 is where you want to go.
“Throughout my career, I realized that Formula 1 was not a place I could really get to,” said the Spaniard. “I went through IndyCar and we did it, and interestingly, winning there gave me the opportunity to be here, so I make the most of every second.”
“I’m not going after it, but if someone gives me the opportunity, I’ll drive, that’s my dream, but it’s not like I’m focused on that. I have a career ahead of me in IndyCar, we’ve been successful, and I want to get as many championships as possible, although if there is a single-seater, I will drive it,” Palou said.
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